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If you study music, at some point you would have been asked to write about music. If you are like most people, the very thought that you have to write about music makes you scared and frustrated, not knowing where to start, or what to actually write about.

But, with these 5 easy steps, you too will be able to write about music with success and ease!

 

What to Write About Music

Before you even begin, the first thing you will need to do to start to write about music, is to choose a piece of music that you will study. Once you have chosen a piece of music to write about, you then need to decide what aspect of the music you want to discuss in your writing.

The best place to start with any writing about a piece of music task is to listen to the music through the lens of either the Elements of Music or the Concepts of Music.

In this post you will be shown how to write about melody in music. To learn more about Melody in music, read this blog post, or watch the YouTube clip below. 

It is important that you understand the music terminology and music vocabulary associated with your chosen Element of Music before you begin, that way, when you listen to a piece of music, you will have some guiding questions to help you focus your writing about music on.

how to write about music image of the M.U.S.I.C. scaffold

 

How to Write About Music Strategy

This writing about music strategy is an easy to follow guide to help you write in a critical and analytical way. By following these steps, and using the writing scaffold, you will be able to focus your writing on the music, and not on your opinion of the music!

The M.U.S.I.C. writing strategy for students works for any piece of music, in any style and any genre, and for any part of the 8 Elements of Music or the 6 Concepts of Music.

M- Main Idea

U- Understanding

S- Samples

I- In depth Information

C- Connect to Concept or Element

Find more information on how to use the .M.U.S.I.C. Strategy here.

 

Listen to the Music

The first thing you need to do, after you have chosen your music, is to listen to the music and answer the following questions. Remember this example is about focusing on the Melody in the music. If you want to learn about Melody in music, read more here.

  1. What instrument/s or voice/s perform the melody?
  2. What is the contour of the melody? Is it jagged, balanced, jumpy, ascending, descending, smooth, linear, flowing, angular, etc…
  3. Is the melody mainly conjunct (steps) or disjunct (leaps)?
  4. What is the articulation of the melody? Mainly legato (smooth and well connected) or staccato (short and detached)?
  5. Is there any use of call and response? If so, between what instrument and in what section?

Let’s pretend that the music we are listening to is called “Hello” by Jooya (please note this is not a real song, but made up for the purposes of showing you how to use the M.U.S.I.C. writing strategy).

  1. What instrument/s or voice/s perform the melody?- The female vocalist sings the melody
  2. What is the contour of the melody? Is it jagged, balanced, jumpy, ascending, descending, smooth, linear, flowing, angular, etc…The contour of the melody is smooth in the verses and more bouncy in the chorus
  3. Is the melody mainly conjunct (steps) or disjunct (leaps)? In the verse the melody is conjunct, steps, and in the chorus it is disjunct, leaps.
  4. What is the articulation of the melody? Mainly legato (smooth and well connected) or staccato (short and detached)? Overall the melody is legato in the verse, and slightly staccato in the chorus, especially on the repeated lyrics of “Hello”.
  5. Is there any use of call and response? If so, between what instrument and in what section? There is a call and response between the lead female vocalist and backing vocals in the verse when they echo the last two lines of the verse before the chorus.

 

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How to Write About Music – Step 1

In this step, you need to simply state what is the Main Musical Idea. That’s it!

In this example, you can start your paragraph with something like:

In the song “Hello”, performed by Jooya, the melody is an important part of the song.

 

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How to Write About Music – Step 2

For this step all you need to do is write a definition of the main musical idea.

In this case, you will need to write a definition of melody in music. 

This sentence could look like this:

A musical definition of a melody in music is that it is a series of pitches that forms a tune. A melody is usually the most memorable part of the music.

 

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How to Write About Music – Step 3 & 4

For the next part of writing about music, you need to combine both samples and in depth information together.

This is not as hard as it sounds! Think of it this way, for all the questions you answered when you were listening to your music, you simply change those questions and answers into a statement. That’s it! 

To break it down, the Samples are the musical samples you are discussing, and the In Depth Information is the added details about the musical samples. This information could be defining the musical terminology, stating when and by what instrument, or even how the instrument demonstrates that musical sample.

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Using our answers from before, the next part of your writing about music could be something that looks like this:

The instrument that performs the melody throughout the song is the female vocalist. The contour of the melody is smooth in the verses and more bouncy in the chorus. In the verse the melody is conjunct, this means it is sung in steps, and in the chorus it is disjunct,  meaning it is sung in leaps or larger intervals.  Overall the melody is sung legato in the verse, legato is defined as smooth and well connected.  However in the chorus the melody is slightly more staccato in the chorus, especially on the repeated lyrics of “Hello”. Staccato means that the notes are performed short and detached. There is a call and response between the lead female vocalist and backing vocals in the verse when they echo the last two lines of the verse before the chorus. A call and response is where the main melody performs and it is answered by a group or another instrument, like someone responding in a conversation.

 

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How to Write About Music – Step 5

The last step in this process is to add a final statement about why the main musical idea is an important aspect of the music being studied. If you had a question that you were answering, this is where you would write a statement that connects to the question. 

For example, if your overall question was “How is variety achieved in the music selected for study?” 

Your final sentence could be something like this:

Melody is a contributing factor to adding variety to the music because the female vocalist sings a different melody in the verse and chorus, and each melody has defining features.

OR of you are simply discussing the Element or Concept of Music, your final statement might look like this:

Melody is an important part of the music because it is what makes the music memorable and unique for the audience to enjoy.

 

Writing About Music – Putting it all together

To recap, when you are writing about music, the easiest way to achieve success is to use the M.U.S.I.C. writing strategy.

M- Main Musical Idea

U- Understanding

S- Specific Samples

I- In Depth Information

C- Connect to Concept of Question

Here is what your final paragraph should look like:

In the song “Hello”, performed by Jooya, the melody is an important part of the song. A musical definition of a melody in music is that it is a series of pitches that forms a tune. A melody is usually the most memorable part of the music. The instrument that performs the melody throughout the song is the female vocalist. The contour of the melody is smooth in the verses and more bouncy in the chorus. In the verse the melody is conjunct, this means it is sung in steps, and in the chorus it is disjunct,  meaning it is sung in leaps or larger intervals. Overall the melody is sung legato in the verse, legato is defined as smooth and well connected. However, in the chorus the melody is slightly more staccato in the chorus, especially on the repeated lyrics of “Hello”. Staccato means that the notes are performed short and detached. There is a call and response between the lead female vocalist and backing vocals in the verse when they echo the last two lines of the verse before the chorus. A call and response is where the main melody performs and it is answered by a group or another instrument, like someone responding in a conversation. Melody is an important part of the music because it is what makes the music memorable and unique for the audience to enjoy.

image of the paragraph sample on melody used in the how to write about music blog post 2021

If you have found this helpful, and you would like to know more about using M.U.S.I.C. in your writing about music studies, check out the Writing About Music Course here.

 

Until next time

Happy listening

Julia from Jooya

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